There is only one number you need to know to determine why encrypted devices and those who want them will win this legal battle between the FBI and Apple. And it doesn’t matter what that number is as long as it’s more than “one.”
The fact is that even if the FBI, CIA and NSA win every Supreme Court case to open encrypted devices in their quest to detect terrorist cells before they strike, there are over 500 devices and programs offering encryption by foreign companies--where US courts have no jurisdiction.
And the Apple phone can easily use a foreign encryption app over which our Supreme Court has no authority.
It appears computer encryption will always be ahead of those who want to break encryption, even if there were a world law forcing companies to do so. Why? Because an app can be created and distributed in someone's car using a cell phone, with virtually no possibility of being caught in the act.
Unless someone creates a “truth machine,” a scenario explored in a late 1990s science fiction novel by the same name, there is only one effective means of preventing future terrorist attacks: stop making terrorists! Not just religious extremists, but extremists of any kind (environmental, racial, political, economic, etc.)
Given the exponential growth of potential WMD capability of any nation, group, or highly motivated individual--combined with the large number of human vulnerabilities and the increasing complexity of our world (which makes it increasingly vulnerable to disruption)--we must finally accept what we have been told repeatedly by our religious prophets, genius scientists, moral lawyers, political philosophers, prized generals, and wisest souls:
Love your enemy. We are all interconnected. Pledge life, liberty and justice for all; combine love with power; chose the rule of law instead the law of force; and advance education for all. United we stand, divided we all fall.
These are not just national, spiritual or global ideals. They are profoundly selfish rules to follow. Without them, no level of armaments or grandiose efforts at disarmament will keep us safe from mass murderers who have revenge burning in their hearts or warped ideologies polluting their minds.
Maximizing humanity’s freedoms and security will never be a function of armaments, disarmament, or computer encryption. It is a function of ensuring global justice for everyone. But only if justice is defined as the global enforcement of an obvious set of inalienable human rights, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Only then will humanity experience real peace for the first time instead of intermittent periods of economic suffering while nations reload.
And there will always be threats to our security besides violent people or nations. Some of these threats are even more deadly than war, like pandemics, natural disasters, or unearthly events. But a global government--created of, for and by “We the People” with the primary function of protecting our inalienable human rights--will also yield our best chance of preventing these, as well as recovering from those we cannot prevent.
With this global justice system, we have hope that our species “shall not perish from the earth,” or even the solar system.
I believe artificial intelligence will figure this out soon. I'm just hoping it will be before super human denial does us in.